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Ash Wednesday & its meaning

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Ash Wednesday, which signifies the beginning of 40 days of Lent for Christians in Western New York and throughout the world, was marked with services.

Catholics receive ashes on their forehead.   Bishop Edward Kmiec distributed ashes during the noon hour Wednesday at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.   WBFO'S Jim Pastrick attended a similar service in West Seneca.

Parishioners at Fourteen Holy Helpers parish in West Seneca participated in the marking of ashes on the forehead, a centuries old practice which symbolizes penance and forgiveness.

Deacons, led by Reverend David Belletiere, pastor,  marked churchgoers’ foreheads while reciting the Ash Wednesday blessing. Christians practice the three traditional pillars of the Lenten observance, including prayer, fasting and sacrificial giving.

Fridays in Lent are marked by abstaining from meat as a sign of personal discipline, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities.  Sacrificial giving signifies the individual effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of individual time and talents.